Rakhmanov told us that while our earlier efforts had been direct, sincere,

fresh and true, what we had done today was wrong, insin cere and contrived? All we could do was throw up our hands in despair. ‘But we were feeling it, exper i en cing it!’ the students said. ‘Everybody inev it ably feels and exper i ences some thing at every moment

of his life,’ Tortsov replied. ‘If he were not feeling or exper i en cing anything, he wouldn’t be a person but a corpse. Only the dead feel nothing. The whole ques tion is what precisely you were “feeling” and “exper i en cing”. ‘Let’s take a look at it and compare what happened previ ously with what

you did today when you repeated the exer cise. ‘There can be no doubt, the mise-en-scène, the moves, their sequence,

the tiniest details of the group ing were retained with aston ish ing preci sion. Just look at the piled up furniture block ing the door. It’s almost as though you’d taken a photo graph of the way everything had been arranged and had built the barri cade using it as a blue print. ‘The whole external, factual side was repeated with quite aston ish ing

preci sion, clear evid ence of the fact that you possess a keen memory for the stage picture, group ing, phys ical action, move ments, moves, etc. So much for the external side. But is it really so import ant where you were stand ing and how you were grouped? I, as the audi ence, am much more inter ested in knowing how you were respond ing intern ally, what you were feeling. It is your own indi vidual exper i ences, which you bring to the role from the real world that give it life. But you didn’t give me these feel ings. If the external action, the mises-en-scène, the group ing are not substan ti ated from within, they are mere form, dry, and unne ces sary for us onstage. And that is what makes the differ ence between today’s perform ance and the one you did earlier. ‘The first time I sugges ted the idea of the mad, unin vited guest, you all,

as one, started think ing about the vital problem of self-preser va tion. All of you weighed up the circum stances, and only when you had done that, did you begin to do anything. That was a logical, truth ful approach, genuine exper i en cing phys ic ally embod ied. ‘Today, on the other hand, you were enjoy ing a favour ite game and

instantly, without a moment’s thought, without weigh ing the Given Circumstances, you started copying the external actions you had known previ ously. That was wrong. The first time everything was quiet as the grave, today it was all bubble and excite ment. You all rushed to get things in the right place: Sonya – a cushion, Vanya – a lamp shade, Kostya – an album instead of an ashtray.’